The French multinational is celebrating 25 years in Spain since the construction of their first high-speed rail line which connects Seville to Madrid. Spain is now ranked the 5th fastest provider of high-speed rail in the world at 404km/h. The country owe their success to Alstom which is recognised as the pioneer for rail infrastructure, design and innovation in the country. Since 1992, they have introduced the first train to run at 300km/h on the Spanish network, delivered new generation trams, driverless metros, ERTMS signalling systems and Wi-Fi on board. With such a presence, Alstom is the second largest Spanish employer in the sector with their technical hub in Madrid becoming a benchmark for signalling projects throughout the world. To mark the occasion, SmartRail World has taken a look into some of Alstom’s greatest feats in Spain which have allowed the country to become a one of the leaders in high-speed technology.
"Japan spent three decades developing 2,000km of rail, whereas Spain were able to achieve this in just 18 years."
Alstom ( @Alstom ) in Spain
In Barcelona, Alstom has one of the most advanced rolling stock manufacturing centres in Europe, with the capacity to produce all types of trains, ranging from tramways, metros, suburban units, long distance and high speed sets. Alstom´s Industrial Centre in Santa Perpètua (Barcelona) has always been responsible for manufacturing the entire range of Alstom's trains running in Spain. The trains running on the Madrid-Seville high-speed line were manufactured in these facilities in Barcelona, along with regional shuttles, half of the modern Civia suburban units, Barcelona's driverless metro and most of the trams running in Spain. In Barcelona, Alstom also has a Technology and R&D Centre, which develops "Passenger ergonomics and overall comfort" projects. Currently, more than 50 percent of its business in Spain is dedicated to projects abroad, with centres of excellence for all of its business units.
“Innovation leads our way. We are currently developing the first in Spain 4.0 factory in the sector, carrying out digitalisation programmes based on IoT technologies, implementing sensors to create smart products and solutions. These innovations have a unique purpose: to improve efficiency, profitability, sustainability and quality for our clients" says Antonio Moreno, president of Alstom Spain.
Spanish high-speed rail
At the end of the 1980s, Spain had an inequality issue as jobs and wealth were only concentrated in the rich north. Therefore, with Alstom’s help, their first high-speed rail service linking the capital with Seville was intended to spread jobs and the development to the South. Since then, the Spanish AVE network has become the longest high-speed rail system in Europe with 3,100km (1,900 miles) of tracks - the second largest in the world after China. There are plans to develop an additional 5,000km of lines, even though their latest line opening was in 2015.
High-speed is certainly a popular mode of transport for the country; Renfe’s service carried more than 35 million passengers in 2015. AVE and Avant are long-distance trains which serve regional routes reaching Madrid, Barcelona, France, Valencia and Alicante on the east coast; Seville and Malaga; Valladolid, Leon and Camora in the north west.
What is particularly impressive about Spain’s high-speed rail development is not the speed, length or design but the time it took to construct. To give you more of an idea, Japan spent three decades developing 2,000km of rail, whereas Spain were able to achieve this in just 18 years. In fact, Spain’s construction pace is only lagging behind China which is no mean feat, and continues to lie ahead of France, Germany and Italy. This means that Spain operates the newest high-speed lines in Europe and there are no plans for them to slow down just yet.